There had already been eight different MotoGP™ winners in 2016 when the paddock touched down in Sepang, which was the greatest number of different winners in a single season in the MotoGP™ era. The only other year in the 68 year history of motorcycle grand prix racing that there were eight different winners in a premier-class season was in 2000, when eight riders won 500cc Grands Prix: Kenny Roberts Jnr, Garry McCoy, Valentino Rossi, Max Biaggi, Alex Barros, Alex Criville, Loris Capirossi and Norick Abe.
Now, the 2016 honour roll has another name: Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), and after the Italian’s milestone win, we take a look back through the history made in an unbelievable season of MotoGP™ - starting with the first of the eight in a row: Mugello.
Mugello: Lorenzo draws first
The first of the historic eight in a row was a photo finish for Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) after the then-reigning Champion came out on top in a stunning duel with his successor to the crown, Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team). Neck and neck over the line, the incredible fight to the end showcased their incredible rivalry once again - and the absolute pinnacle of MotoGP™ as the two left everything on the track.
Catalunya: The empire strikes back
In a weekend marked by tragedy on the Friday, it was Movistar Yamaha's legendary Valentino Rossi who duelled Marquez for the win on the latter's home turf, with some serious honour up for grabs. Ultimately fending him off in spectacular style on the penultimate lap, the ‘Doctor’ crossed the line clear in the lead for his second win of the year - and his second on enemy turf.
Assen: Jackassen sinks a ‘shoey’
The first independent team winner since 2006: Jack Miller did the honours for Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS in a stunning wet weather display after a red flag stoppage. Starting further up on a re-defined grid, Miller took the scalp of none other than Marquez on his way to his emotional first premier class win.
Sachsenring: the magician turns tactician
The German GP was tense, and wet, and it was eventual Champion Marc Marquez who played his hand to perfection. Choosing slick tyres in a perfect gamble after deciding with his team that they wouldn't use the intermediates in any circumstances during the race, Marquez was the master of tactics to take his third win of the season – and cement his new, controlled style on the charge towards the crown.
Austria: the ‘Maniac’ keeps it cool
Ducati topped testing at the new look Red Bull Ring on first contact with the track, and expectations were high going into the weekend. On race day, the crystal ball proved correct as 'Maniac' Andrea Iannone made the perfect tyre choice and stuck resolutely to his strategy - taking a stunning first win for the Borgo Panigale-based Ducati Team since Casey Stoner last did the honours in 2010, and proving his ‘Maniac’ nickname anything but correct with the calculated, collected victory.
Brno: British invasion
Another wet race day greeted the paddock in the Czech GP, and from the chaos of the spray another new winner emerged: LCR Honda rider Cal Crutchlow. Choosing the harder option tyre and slicing through the field from what seemed like impossible far back, the Brit took a stunning second Independent Team win of the season and the first premier class triumph for his nation since Barry Sheene in 1981.
Silverstone: the new alien on the block
The Great British weather was true to form at Silverstone, and under grey skies on a cool track, Team Suzuki Ecstar rider Maverick Viñales was Top Gun as he disappeared at the front - untouchable and inch-perfect. Taking his first win was historic enough as the new kid on the block blasted away from the field, but it was also Suzuki’s first victory since Chris Vermeulen won in 2007. Another incredible race, another different winner and another loop in the rollercoaster of the MotoGP™ season.
Misano: Pedrosa's magic eight
The first half of the season was tough for Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team), but the post-race test in Brno saw the 'Baby Samurai' find some progress that then came to spectacular fruition at Misano World Circuit. Starting P8 on the grid - as if that were a sign - Pedrosa got a good start and began gaining ground at a good rate - but teammate Marquez and the Movistar Yamahas of Lorenzo and Rossi seemed a long way ahead. With lap record pace lighting up the timing screens however, Pedrosa picked off his rivals one by one as he conquered his first victory of the year - aggressive, controlled and commanding over the line as the magic eighth.
Sepang: 'DesmoDovi' on cloud 9
The Malaysian GP was another characterised by difficult weather and track conditions, and in the wet Q2 session on Saturday it was Ducati Team's Andrea Dovizioso who took an impressive pole position. With Sunday seeing the heavens open after Moto2, DesmoDovi knew he could deal a good hand and kept himself in the podium fight for the first half of the race as those around him fell and pushed too hard. Perfectly judging the pace and conditions, Dovizioso overtook a struggling Valentino Rossi for the lead in the closing stages to secure his first win of the season - and write another chapter in the glorious history of 2016: a truly record-breaking year in the premier class of Grand Prix racing.
...Valencia: to be continued?